Today, February 6, 2022, is my birthday. Honored to have circled the sun one more time, and lived life to the fullest while doing it. Giving, hopefully, at least as much as I took, along the way.
Traditionally the individual celebrating their birthday receives gifts from family members and friends, as a display of love and appreciation for the life they’ve lived. That said, I see giving, as getting too.
For whatever reason, I have always looked for ways to give back to the world in which we live, back into the community, and back to those important to me, to commemorate another year blessed to be alive.
I also recognize that I didn’t get here, on my own. I’ve had a LOT of help. And in the place where I spend the majority of my time, in my main philanthropic organization, Operation HOPE — now the largest financial literacy, economic inclusion organization of its kind in the nation today — my senior team of leaders there have been committed to me and the organization’s work for in some cases, close to 30 years. And have never asked for anything, for themselves.
And they have, each of them helped to build it into the globally recognized and respected powerhouse organization for empowerment and change that it is today, helping millions to change their own lives, one person at a time.
I also recognized that individuals working at such a nonprofit organization, as they have nobly chosen to do, will not ever offer them commercial, private sector benefits, including profit sharing, ownership equity, or even the generous performance-based financial bonuses that are available to other executives in the private sector.
So, I decided to do a little something personally and individually, to help level the playing field a little.
After concluding an important business transaction in my private business enterprise, at Bryant Group Ventures, I decided to translate and to transfer some of my commercial, private sector success, to and for members of my philanthropic team, that have helped me and the organization to succeed so unselfishly, along the way.
The first part of my giving back involved a recent $2.5 million charitable contribution from me and my new family Foundation to Operation HOPE the organization. We made sure that approximately half of this financial contribution was reserved for, and touched the lives of, each and every one of the hundreds of employees at Operation HOPE; from the receptionist and administrative assistants to the HOPE Financial Coaches to my dedicated team including the amazing Tina Fair, my Executive Assistant.
Some employees received a Rainy Day Fund contribution to help them weather unexpected emergency expenses that always come up in life. Others received a special financial gift tied to their tenure at HOPE, and still, others received a not-so-insubstantial investment account contribution, to do and to manage as they like after the gift was made. The rest of the donation will go to support 1MBB, Financial Literacy 4 All, the Operation HOPE Endowment, and general support, as directed by our president and CFO Brian Betts. Again, this is from me, personally, to the organization.
My second and final act here was designed to pour a little personal love and personal appreciation, over a group of leaders and friends within Operation HOPE, who have sacrificed more than I can adequately describe here; to advance the work, and to also help me get that work done. They include Rachael Doff, Rod McGrew, Lance Triggs, Mary Hagerty Ehrsam, Jena Roscoe, Brian Betts, Kevin Boucher and SirJames Buchanon.
Whether that meant a text requiring a response at midnight, or work over the weekends, a phone call at 11pm on a Saturday night, or simply doing what it took to protect and to honor the work, without even having to be asked. Simply, amazing…their dedication. That particular group, I decided to do something else, a little extra for.
These are folks I call my ‘Ride or Die’ group, or my Fab 5 + 3 group. Some of them can be found in the historic HOPE photo below. One of many that than 30 years of commitment and service, this year.
They are not all who go beyond the call of duty for Operation HOPE to be sure, but they do represent that ‘ride or die’ can do, committed spirit, without question, along with another invaluable and tenured executive leader, Elaine Hungenberg, head of HOPE’s Research and Impact Institute. I am and have been deeply honored, to have them with me alongside me for this wild and rewarding ride, of service. To others.
And so, this year my wife, Chaitra Dalton Bryant and I, on the occasion of my birthday — gave these loved ones a special personal gift from us individually (again, not tied to the organization or its resources in any way, just to be 100% clear), in simply special recognition of their extraordinary contributions, and service, to the vision and mission of Operation HOPE.
Break out your handkerchiefs and tissue paper, and join in the love…..below. ❤️
This is, my Happy Birthday Wish Gift, to my team. 🙏🏽
A special thank you to Tony Marzullo, and his crack team at Gas Motorcars in Atlanta, led by Ben Everest, for working like crazy people, for close to a month, across the country, to make all of this happen for my people.
Happy 30th Anniversary, Operation HOPE.
John Hope Bryant, Entrepreneur.